Thu, May 15, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Premier pledges help for quake victims

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Relief supplies from the Red Cross, the Buddhist Comapassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation and Dharma Drum Mountain are packed in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: YAO KAI-SHIOU, TAIPEI TIMES

The government yesterday pledged a donation of NT$2 billion (US$65 million) to victims of the Sichuan earthquake via the Red Cross in China.

“We have set up a task force to handle the emergency rescue project. We hope that the public will donate to relief efforts to help Chinese people rebuild their homeland,” Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) told a press conference.

Out of the planned NT$2 billion, NT$700 million will come from a government reserve fund, NT$100 million is in the form of rice, estimated at 20 tonnes, NT$200 million will come from the contribution of one-day’s income from all government employees and the rest is expected come from donations made by the public.

“The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has opened a special account at the Bank of Taiwan ... We welcome donations from everyone,” MAC Chairman Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), in charge of the task force, said, adding that all donations to the government account will be 100 percent tax deductible.

He said that the Strait Exchange Foundation (SEF) will inform its counterpart in China, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), of Taiwan’s plan to donate money and goods.

The SEF and ARATS are semi-official agencies authorized to handle relations between Taiwan and China in the absence of formal ties.

Meanwhile, Chen said that the MAC had approved an application filed by the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation and Taiwan’s Red Cross for relief supplies to be sent directly to China on cargo charter flights. The flights are due to leave this morning.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴) said that Air Macau had agreed to send resources from Taiwanese civil and religious groups via a direct charter flight to Chengdu at 10am today.

List of donation accounts for earthquake victims

Ministry of the Interior

Institution: Bank of Taiwan

Account name: Ministry of the Interior

Mainland Affairs Council

Account number: 003 004 291 972

The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China

Institution: Taiwan Post

Account name: The Red Cross Society of the Republic of China

Account number: 05046467

www.redcross.org.tw, Tel: (02) 2362-8382

Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Institution: Taiwan Post

Account name: Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Account number: 06887791

Tel: (02) 2776-0111

World Vision Taiwan

Institution: Taiwan Post

Account name: World Vision Taiwan

Account number: 15752467

Tel: (02) 2175-1995

Dharma Drum Mountain

Institution: First Bank, Beitou Branch

Account name: Dharma Drum Mountain

Account number: 19577467

Tel: (02) 2893-9966

Ling Jiu Mountain Buddhist Society

Institution: Bank SinoPac, Xisong Branch

Account name: Ling Jiu Mountain Buddhist Foundation

Account Number: 006-00400-216447

Tel: (02) 8231-6789

Note: Please specify “Sichuan Earthquake Relief Fund” when making donations

COMPILED BY STAFF REPORTER JENNY W. HSU


“I have reached an agreement with the MAC ... the first relief charter flight will deliver 46 tonnes of resources, including drinking water, blankets, tents, sleeping bags and, unfortunately, body bags because of the need in the area, to Chengdu tomorrow [today],” he told a press conference.

Chiang said the resources will be distributed by a Taiwanese businesspeople’s association based in Chengdu.

Taiwanese authorities offered to send personnel to help Chinese rescuers on Tuesday morning, but Beijing had not given approval as of yesterday.

“As [China’s] Office of Taiwan Affairs said at its press conference this morning, the disruption of traffic and communications made it difficult for it to help Taiwanese rescuers get to the disaster area,” Chen said.

Despite this, Chen said the government was ready to send a team of rescue workers to China on direct charter flights.

“The 58 rescue workers are awaiting orders to head to China. We can start the charter flights within two hours after Beijing agrees to accept our help,” he said.

“As the cross-Strait humanitarian charter flight is an existing mechanism, we can organize more rescuers anytime to join earthquake relief efforts,” Chen said, “But we haven’t received clear information from China that our rescuers will be allowed in.”

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday asked the premier to work on ways to offer government-to-government assistance.

“We must not only express our intention but also take action,” he said.

As well as instructing the Executive Yuan to integrate all resources to offer humanitarian relief to China, the president said he would like to see the public contribute.

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